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Psychology, Race, Class, Power, & Diversity with Dr. Lara Sheehi

The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) television studios, UDCtv, provides the Washington, DC area with programming geared to foster health, political and environmental awareness.  Dr. Katherine Marshall Woods hosts this UDCtv show entitled “A Healthy Mind” featuring guests from a myriad of professions lending information to promote healthy living and lifestyles.  Entries entitled: “A Healthy […]

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The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) television studios, UDCtv, provides the Washington, DC area with programming geared to foster health, political and environmental awareness.  Dr. Katherine Marshall Woods hosts this UDCtv show entitled “A Healthy Mind” featuring guests from a myriad of professions lending information to promote healthy living and lifestyles.  Entries entitled: “A Healthy Mind” share these interviews.

Dr. Lara Sheehi

On May 20, 2020, Dr. Lara Sheehi, was invited onto the show to discuss decolonial struggles, power, race, class, gender constructs, and dynamics within psychoanalysis. Dr. Sheehi earned her Psy.D from The George Washing University’s Professional Psychology Program. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and policy analyst. She practices from a trans-inclusive feminist and liberation theory model. Dr. Sheehi is on the editorial board for the Journal of the Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society and American Psychoanalytic Association. Currently, she is a professor at The George Washington University and also maintains a private practice in Williamsburg, VA and Columbia, SC. 

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Dr. Marshall Woods: “Hello, my name is Dr. Katherine Marshall Woods, your host for A Healthy Mind. The purpose of this show is to educate and inform the public regarding mental health, from emotional disorders to public policies that affect healthy minds.”

“ When one is diagnosed with a health concern, there are times individuals struggle to receive health care. Within our environment we find that there are many barriers to gaining help that one who might need. Poverty, education, and resources are just a few factors that influence the success one has to access quality health care.”

“Today, with me we have, Dr. Lara Sheehi, a colleague and friend who is a member of the core faculty at The George Washington University. Her work has a focus on power, race, class, and gender constructs, and dynamics with in psychoanalysis. Please welcome Dr. Lara Sheehi. Thank you for coming on today!”

Dr. Sheehi: “Hi, thank you so much for having me!”

Dr. Marshall Woods: “So tell me a little bit more about your professional self. I know what I stated just scratches the surface really.”

Dr. Sheehi: “(Laughs) Yea, so I am a licensed clinical psychologist and I’m currently, you know all of us our in our spaces during COVID so, I just want to make sure to locate myself, and I’m occupied pond monkey land, so, otherwise known as Williamsburg, Virginia. So my practice is currently here, from this space, where you see me, this is where I practice. My practices is primarily with folks who identify with indigenous black or people of color, and I approach my work from a systems prospective and from a lens of decoloniality and liberation. So, that’s what my research is on, but that’s also what my work is on, that’s what my writing is as well. I am also lucky to be colleagues with you at George Washington University Professional Psychology program, where I teach our diversity sequence. It’s a three-step diversity class, from a development apprenticeship model with the idea being that educating responsible and ethical clinicians means that we expose them to the many layers of what diversity might mean, most specifically from a systemic and structural model. So, that’s how we approach it; and every year they are in the program they have access, not only to diversity from their core curriculum but for designated classes that also teach them, certain language around diversity, how to be current with the language, and most importantly how do we have these conversations, and how do they affect our work as clinicians. Not just in the room with patients but in our work with our colleagues, in the systems that we work in, in the systems that we might inadvertently perpetuate, and overall the systems of oppression in which psychology exist. I also teach advance technique courses, we call our practicum, and a variety of other issues that we do on a daily basis, being faculty at GW.”

Dr. Marshall Woods:  “Yes, and I know professionally you also are very dedicated to the field of psychoanalysis, and you are also apart of APA, can you tell us a little bit about that, American Psychological Association.”

Dr. Sheehi: “Yes, sure. So I am the secretary of the Society of Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. And, I, through that program, that is a division of APA, The American Psychological Association, and I’ve been pretty active in that since I was a graduate student. And, it’s been wonderful to see the change in that division in and of itself. We are seeing, much like the field, we’re seeing more attentiveness to issues of race, class, gender within psychoanalysis. A lot of the times, my students or folks that I meet will ask me, Why are you in psychoanalysis? As a woman of color, as somebody who’s dedicated to these issues, I often get that question. And, my answer is I feel like psychoanalysis has liberatory potential. It’s about, sort of, humbling ourselves, a little bit, to think back to our ancestors, not reinvent the wheel, see how psychoanalysis matches up with communal practices and ways of indigeneity, really, and see sister disciplines that have done this for a long time. So, I’ve been really excited to be apart of the division and see the life that younger clinicians of color are bringing in. The ideas that we’re talking about, couple weeks back, or maybe a month now back, we were supposed to have our 2020 conference; which I was co-chair of with my sisters Leilani Salvo Crane, MBA, Psy.D. and Nadine Obeid, Ph.D., and it was called Reckoning. Sort of hindsight, and looking back and looking forward, right; so, it was this idea of we can’t rush past the structural issues that continue to be an issue all the time, in psychology but also in psychoanalysis.” 

“So how do we reckon with the problems we still have that are entrenched in our field, but how do we also look forward and talk about what do we envision as a collectively psychoanalysis. So, we had wonder things that were going to be presented, I know you were going to be a presenter, as well as run a workshop, for us. But, apart from having wonderful colleagues like yourself, we heard from wonderful voices across the globe, we had folks coming from India, folks coming from Palestine, folks coming from Italy, from across this country, there was so much excitement about the potential to talk more broadly about psychoanalysis and more importantly about psychoanalytical practice, where is psychoanalysis being done, and how do we re-envision what that actually means.”

Please visit https://youtu.be/3l9k-10qBQo to view the remaining portion of this interview. 

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